Copyright to Mounir Ajam © 2012.
Published here November 2012.

Introduction | Setting the Scene | Project Phases and Stages
PMBOK® Guide Process Groups | Process Groups vs. Project Life Span 
Clearing the Doubts | Putting it All Together | Conclusion

Setting the Scene

With that introduction, we realize that some readers may well question our motive and discredit this paper. But before rushing to judgment, read the next few lines and answer the following questions!

  1. On any given project (not a task or tiny project), how often do you perform PMI's initiation processes described in PMI's Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge?[5]
  2. How about the planning processes ... or closing processes ... or the other processes?
  3. During a project, how many "project" management plans do you have? (Notice the apostrophes around the word project)
  4. Does the statement perform the executing processes during the project "initiation phase" make sense?
  5. How about plan the planning phase, does that make sense?
  6. Is there only one "charter" on a "project"?

If you answer "once" to questions 1, 2, or 6 ... and one project management plan to question 3 ... and questions 4 and 5 do not make sense to you ... read on. This paper is for you!

What are we redefining?

Our first job in this paper is to clarify the confusion between "project life cycle" and the PMBOK "process groups". We do so in the following steps:

  1. We will explain the term project life cycle
  2. We will explain project phases and stages
  3. We will highlight the PMBOK process groups
  4. Finally, we will clear the confusion between process groups and project life cycle

The Project Life Cycle (or preferably, Project Life Span)

The first point is to explain the term project life cycle, or what we prefer to call project life span.

Which is the correct term: Project Life Cycle or Project Life Span? We really do not know! This point is not crucial for the purpose of this paper, but you can refer to our web site for an article discussing differences between project life cycle and project life span. Nevertheless, in this paper we will use the term: project life span.

The project life span represents a period of time from idea to closure of a project. Figure 1 is a typical graphical representation of a project life span.

Figure 1: A typical project life span
Figure 1: A typical project life span

Thus, a typical project life span consists of phases and/or stages, as we will explain next.

Introduction  Introduction

5. The Project management Institute's flagship publication: A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Fourth Edition, 2008, better known as the PMBOK® Guide or just "PMBOK".
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